A landmark new global agreement to slash the world’s fast-growing greenhouse gas, commonly found in air conditioners and refrigerators, has been struck in Rwanda.
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC’s) replaced chloroflurocarbons (CFC’s) when countries resolved to end the use of the CFCs under the Montreal Protocol after it was established that CFCs were creating the hole in the ozone layer.
But almost 200 nations have agreed to amend the agreement after scientists discovered that, while they pose no threat to the ozone layer, HFCs contribute to global warming by trapping heat radiating off the Earth.
The agreement represents the second major deal struck in a month to limit greenhouse gas emissions, after countries agreed to limit carbon emissions from aviation for the first time last week.
The shipping industry is set to consider a similar deal before the end of the year.
Global leaders such as President Barack Obama have since praised the milestone agreement, with the deal hoping to create a 0.5-degree centigrade reduction in global temperature.
Climate Council Chief Councillor Tim Flannery has welcomed the move, which the UN has labeled as the world’s single largest contribution the world has ever made towards limiting global warming.
“Since world leaders agreed to work together to tackle climate change in Paris, we have seen a number of major international agreements between countries as well as pledges to limit greenhouse gas emissions from industries not covered by the agreement,” he said.
‘HFC’s are the world’s fastest growing greenhouse gases and each year, they emit as much C02 equivalent as nearly 300 coal-fired power plants.
“This amendment is a major step forward in limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.”
Companies have already begun preparing for the phase out of HFCs, with a number of existing low-cost gas alternatives available.
Professor Tim Flannery said that while progress was being made all over the world, Australia was still yet to leave the starting blocks in reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions.
“With the next major meeting of the world leaders on the Paris agreement just weeks away, Australia is facing tough questions over its lack of action,” he said.
“Several countries, including the US, China and NZ, have posed formal questions to Australia ahead of the next meeting in Morocco that make it clear the world is yet to be convinced Australia will play its part in meeting the goals agreed at the Paris climate summit.
“Australia’s emissions are continuing to rise and despite widespread coral bleaching and devastating bushfires this year, there has been no change to our emissions reduction policies.
“Australia should take some inspiration from the progress being made all over the world or they will continue to earn the scorn of the global community for our failure to work with the rest of the world to tackle climate change.”
The Paris Agreement will be implemented by the United Nations on November 4, 2016.
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